Long were the days when making a change to documentation required a complicated naming system. Final-version.doc, Final-version-1.doc, Final-Final-version.doc were seen as the norm. It was hard to know which version of the documents were actually needed and which version contained the right changes.
Now that technical writers are working closer with programmers, we have started using their tools. One tool that I have found imporant to my work is Git. If you haven’t used Git before, I suggest you start implementing it as it will save you a lot of time and headaches.
A commit to a git repository acts as a snapshot of all your files in your directory. Each commit in a git repository is a giant copy and paste of your entire project, but better.
Branches are versions of the main project. To make a change or add a feature make a branch (or a copy) of the main project. From there you will make your changes. Save the changes and commit the changes back into the main project.
Instead of copying and pasting the entire project, Git will store the changes, known as deltas. You can see what gets changed from each version of the branch before it gets merged back into the main project. This is useful as sometimes changes to the project may be minor and the project you are working on can contain thousands of lines of code.
I like this method better as you can compare versions. Seeing each version you can mark what get changed, updated, or deleted. Each commit is a snapshot of the project which are lightweight and switching between each snapshot can be very fast. Branches are probably best used when working in collaboration. Each member of a team can create their own branch, make changes, and merge it back. Making sure the branch you are working on is in sync with all the other branches will help make sure you don’t have any merge errors.
With Git branches there is no need to wonder what got changed as the deltas of each branch will show you in detail what was changed. The commit messages will provide extra detail along with a time stamp so you know exactly what was changed or updated.
Do you use Git in your workspace? Let me know how you have found it useful.